With the summer drawing to a close and a new academic year looming, parents of children with eczema might be feeling some trepidation about how to manage their skin condition away from home.
Perhaps your child is worried about meeting new friends, introducing themselves and talking about their health needs to new teachers, or perhaps the changing weather, scratchy new uniforms and being indoors in centrally-heated environments means that they’re more susceptible to flare-ups. Whatever the combination of factors, a new school year can be a really stressful time.
We’ve put together some suggestions for helping your child back to school below. And why not pop a 100ml tube of our brilliant Daily Moisturising Cream in their school bag as well?
This will make it easier for your child to have their emollient with them at all times, whenever the itch strikes!
We'd advise that you keep one at home, one in their school bag and have a spare for their grandparents’, friend's or childminder’s house.
What Can You Do To Help A Child With Eczema At School?
Talk To The School
The key factor in keeping on top of eczema is to keep skin well moisturised at all times; this is likely to mean that your child will need to apply emollients themselves throughout the day, in breaks or even sometimes during lesson time. Make sure that everyone involved in your child’s care knows how important it is to encourage kids with eczema to moisturise, so talk to the school beforehand and let the school nurse or class teacher knows your child might need some support to apply their emollients regularly.
Support Them Not To Scratch
Have a chat with your child about how they’ll manage itchy moments when you’re not with them: discuss distraction techniques or alternatives to scratching (such as rubbing the area, using a cool pack or counting to ten) with their teacher. Talk to school staff about how important it is not to shame or tell off your child if they’re scratching.
Discuss Alternatives To Flare-Up Activities
Anything that can cause sweating or involve irritant chemicals on the skin is likely to be a no-no for kids with severe eczema; a bad flare-up away from parents can be really hard to cope with so this could mean that some art activities, energetic sport or swimming are out-of-bounds.
Maybe they can be involved in those activities in other ways: sports reporting instead of taking part in the games; film-making, writing or computer work instead of swimming sessions. The important thing is to involve the child in decision-making so they’re not just left feeling they’re missing out on all the fun stuff.
Be Aware of Social Issues
The pressure on kids to live up to social media ideals is intense even for young people without skin issues, but for those with visible eczema on arms, legs or faces, it can be excruciating. They might be experiencing bullying, stress, anxiety or low self-confidence.
Talk to your child about their feelings and if necessary have a meeting with teachers or support staff, so everyone knows what’s going on. It’s really crucial to handle this with sensitivity and tact, so your child isn’t finding themselves even more mortified by any intervention.
Prepare A Care Pack Together
You and your child can work together to make up a special care pack to keep in their school bag. Chat about what they’d like in it to help them through the tricky times.
It could include:
- Gloves (for handling materials that may irritate skin)
- Their preferred emollient cream or ointment
- Their prescribed antibiotic or steroid ointment
- Soap-free hypoallergenic cleanser (if your child cannot tolerate the hand soap in school bathrooms)
- Spare bandages and/or gauze pads
- Hypoallergenic plasters
- Written instructions for teachers or support staff about your child’s emollients and other medications, triggers to avoid, limitations or special arrangements for flare-up activities
Allergy UK has put together some resources for students, teachers and parents to make the transition back to school straightforward and to empower parents and children to feel safe in schools. The focus is on allergies, particularly food allergies, but there’s plenty in there that’s useful to a child with eczema too!
And we have a Checklist for Childcare Providers that you can download and give to your teachers or nursery staff.
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.